The next iteration of the James Mungro Memorial Award sponsored by (sponsor still pending but this year’s the year, I can feel it) is still about a month and a half away from officially starting, but Thursday the first step in the process began.
The Tigers announced their non-roster invitees. The magnitude of this announcement can’t be overstated. While it’s not mandatory, it’s highly preferred that the JMMA winner is a non-roster invitee. Chris Bootcheck was non-roster invitee. Jose Alvarez was a non-roster invitees. If you think about it, we’re all non-roster invitees. The Tigers don’t want us on the roster, but they sure want us to come to their ballpark.
Sixteen men were named. One of them will likely be the next man to hold the James Mungro Memorial Award over their head. (Or imagine doing that since the JMMA is internet-based and there’s no tangible award.) There will be more on some these brave souls through the coming weeks and months. The Google stalks will reach folkloric proportions. Right now, though, here’s preliminary look at all 16 invitees and determination of whether they’re JMMA worth.
Craig Albernaz, C. He’s definitely on the initial watch list, although he and the rest of the catchers have the toughest path to the title. Most if not all of them are there solely because somebody has to catch Jhan Marinez before he gets cut.
Duane Below, LHP. I like having Duane Below back in my life — his name is fun to say — but that’s exactly the problem. I know who he is. A year and a half with the Tigers makes him too well known for the JMMA.
Ezequiel Carrera, OF. You had me at Ezequiel.
Tyler Collins, OF/Trevor Crowe, OF. Both have common names, both have first names starting with ‘T’ and both have last names starting with ‘C’. They might as well form one person because I’m going to spend all spring training attributing their stats to one another. Both are on the list.
Luis Exposito, C. I like Exposito. It’s like the the hockey-playing brothers bought a baseball team in Montreal. The same catching caveat that applies to Albernaz applies here.
Blaine Hardy, LHP. Never heard of him. He might be a fringe prospect that didn’t show up in my quick scan of one list of the Tigers’ top prospects, but for right now, he’s in.
Jhan Marinez, RHP. An early favorite for two reasons. 1.) I know nothing about him and but am already imagining the pure joy that will result in hours reading about him. 2.) The utter obliteration on the spelling of his name. The person typing up the birth certificate went a little low and inside when reaching for the ‘u’ and just forget the ‘t’ altogether.
Luis Marte, RHP. He’s is the only non-roster invitee to have been a JMMA award candidate previously. Marte’s wildness earned him a spot in the final six way back in 2012. Then I discovered Chris Bootcheck’s back story and he was discarded. As a previous candidate he’s automatically eliminated. He wouldn’t have qualified anyway. He had 13 appearances with the Tigers in 2012.
James McCann, C. The No. 8 prospect in the Tigers system with an expected arrival date of this year. Buh-bye.
John Murrian, C. Added to the list. Catching caveat applies.
Robbie Ray, LHP. Also know as one of the guys the Tigers got in the Fister trade. No thanks.
Eduardo Sanchez, RHP. The name sounds familiar but I can’t place it. Welcome to the competition Eduardo. Oh! That’s fun to say too!
Devon Travis, IF. Added to the list. He name kind of make it sounds like he’s a hot girl. It’s unclear whether that helps him or hurts him. (EDIT: Baseball America just named him the Tigers’ No. 2 prospect or 2014. He’s out.)
Drew VerHagen, RHP. The random capitalization in the middle of the last name in enjoyable, but he’s ranked as the Tigers’ No. 11 prospect with an arrival date of this season. Too refined, too good.
Danny Worth, IF. Who let this guy back in the ballpark?
Set your countdown clocks now. It’s almost time for the busy season.